I rarely ache for a book. I might be curious about a story to the point of completely pausing reality and forgetting everything around me, but it doesn’t happen very often that my heart needs it, craves it, wants it so much that I cannot enjoy another in its stead. Becoming Calder pushed me out of my comfort zone by immersing me into a world that I like to pretend it doesn’t exist, and it made me fall in love with two of the most amiable, kind hearted characters I have ever come across. It made me see the world through different eyes, aware of how much of my own life I tend to take for granted, but it also left me utterly desperate for the sequel, willing to beg, steal and bribe for a mere peek at it. In this heart-stopping conclusion to a most extraordinary tale, after unthinkable loss and sorrow, we finally see life balancing itself out to make up for all that it has taken. While the first part of this story celebrated human resilience and our innate capacity to find love even under the direst of circumstances, in the second part, we get to see what happens to the human spirit once it is set free—free to grow at last, free to flourish, free to spread its wings, and free to love without restraint.
“Anything you want. If it exists in this world, it’s yours.”
The tragedy that our young heroine survived has changed her, made her afraid of the world around her, but all it takes is one random act of kindness from a complete stranger to give her hope and a reason to go on. Eden might have walked out of Acadia physically unscathed, but her heart is shattered. Her love for Calder is the only thing she knows, the only thing she has ever known, and it is still the only thing she clings onto. Now truly alone in the world, Eden has to find the strength to be her own person, to decide for herself what she wants to believe in, who she wants to be. But even when life finally offers her what she has always craved to have, the constant void inside her never stops reminding her of all that she has lost.
“I was still loved. I belonged to someone again.”
And yet, this is not a story about loss. This is a story about new beginnings, about the type of love that conquers all, about the endurance of the human spirit and its ability to heal itself even when weighed down by memories of a harrowing past. In a feat of sheer brilliance, we are also given the kind of story that tells us that there are two sides to every coin, showing us that the human spirit can sometimes break from mere powerlessness and despair. This is a story that challenges the assumptions we make about people, about their lives and their motivations, and it shows us that every demon has its own demons keeping it awake at night.
“I swear to you, my beautiful, sweet love, everyone deserves a love story that doesn’t hurt.”
“Yes. I promise. Even us.”
There are so many moments in these two books that ripped my heart right out of my chest, made me forget how to breathe, but there is an unwavering current of hope and positivity driving this story forward, and it is that very message that we take away from it in the end—life can change a person, steer them off course, make them lose their way, but it is one’s heart that is the true measure of a person, each one of us deciding what defines us in the end. These characters are perfect examples of the kind of beauty that can come out of darkness, their strength and determination showing us that no matter how many times you strike down a wildflower, try to exterminate it or hinder its growth, it somehow always finds a way to live and bloom.
Every facet of this inspiring tale left me breathless, astonished, overwhelmed and overflowing with emotions, and I believe a tiny part of it will forever live inside me, reminding me to appreciate even the smallest moments of beauty in life. And one day when I grow old and wrinkly, the mere thought of a morning glory will still make my heart smile.
“As pretty as a flower . . . as strong as a weed.”